The letter that won the American Revolution
In 1777, George Washington faced a losing war. Then he created America's first espionage operation.
In 1777, the American colonies were badly losing their fight for independence from Great Britain. The British Army had captured New York City’s crucial port. Expecting further advances, the Continental Congress was evacuated from Philadelphia. It seemed that the war was lost.
Then George Washington, then Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, wrote a letter that changed the course of the war.
Washington was desperate to discover what was happening inside New York, but military scouts couldn’t get close enough. The general needed someone to penetrate enemy lines, but when he asked for volunteers, few of his troops raised their hands.
“Spying wasn’t seen as gentlemanly,” says Vince Houghton, resident historian at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Finally, a young army captain